‘Dracula’ stakes out fast start; ‘Men’ good

The good times kept rolling at cinemas across Europe last week as “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “A Few Good Men” chalked up impressive starts, and “The Bodyguard” showed remarkable tenacity.

Meanwhile, holdover hits kept going strong overseas: “Beauty and the Beast’s” $ 181.5 million, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’s”$ 150.2 million, “The Bodyguard’s”$ 130.4 million, “Sister Act’s”$ 81 million and “Death Becomes Her’s”$ 62 million.

In France, “Dracula” had a colossal $ 5.8 million launch on 324 prints. Coppola’s epic drew 255,780 patrons in Paris, capturing 30% of total receipts in the capital. Expect another bonanza this week as Columbia TriStar adds another 100 copies.

Against the vampire saga, “Sneakers” (retitled “The Experts”), dropped 31% in its second outing, while Emir Kusturica’s “Arizona Dream” held extremely well, down a trifling 4% in its sophomore session.

Of the other rookies, “Glengarry Glen Ross” fared OK at nine Paris houses, and “Salmonberries” and local entry “A L’Heure ou Les Grands Fauves Vont Boire” both tanked.

‘Dracula’ reigns in Spain

“Dracula” also bowed big in Spain with $ 2.9 million on 111 prints, reckoned by one tradester to be the second-highest weekly take in recent years behind the original “Batman.” Distrib reported “Dracula’s” foreign cume through last weekend at $ 35.3 million and “A Few Good Men”at $ 29.2 million, the latter boosted by potent debuts in Germany and Sweden.

“The Bodyguard” had a thumping second stanza in Germany on an expanded 542 copies, tallying $ 13.3 million to date. Mick Jackson’s thriller was a sellout last weekend at some multiplexes, and the spillover filled other theaters. UCI’s Bochum complex reported 17 full houses out of 18, with “Bodyguard” occupying six.

As happened elsewhere, critics in Germany gave the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston starrer a frosty reception, which audiences cheerfully ignored. “The worse the notices, the better some films seem to do,” mused one exhib.

‘Bodyguard’ bow

“Bodyguard” also initialed handsomely in Denmark, Turkey, Brazil, Chile and Indonesia, and WB expects the foreign gross to zip through $ 150 million this week. France is the only major territory where results are a notch or two below outstanding–perhaps, in part, because Houston’s single “I Will Always Love You” hasn’t climbed the charts there.

German top 10 earned a buoyant $ 15.5 million, helped by the new blood of “Good Men” and “Last of the Mohicans.”

Italian receipts totaled $ 8.2 million, paced by “Bodyguard” with $ 18 million in the kitty after six weeks. Retitled “The Gentlemen Thieves, “”Sneakers” had a sparkling $ 327,560 debut on just 34 prints.

“Bodyguard” retained pole position in Britain, off a mere 5% in the fourth weekend, a consistency that evokes in some exhibs warm memories of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (significantly, another song-driven hit).

“Chaplin” went wide on 147 prints after a dullish platform in London, performing much as anticipated — fair in upmarket situations, soft elsewhere.

“Singles” checked in at 38 theaters with reasonable figures; Belgian spoof “Man Bites Dog” (derided as “amateurish and excruciatingly boring”) and British low-budgeter “Soft Top Hard Shoulder” started nimbly in the capital. “Sarafina!” was a bust.

In Japan, “Home Alone 2” took $ 25.3 million through the fifth weekend, nosing past “The Bodyguard,” which has amassed $ 25.1 million through the seventh.

In Australia, “Bodyguard” smashed the opening-week record held by “Crocodile Dundee 2,” pocketing $ A4.36 million ($ 3 million) on 144 screens. It was the first film ever to surpass $ A4 million in the first week, setting house records at 39 situations.

WB originally planned to release the pic last month but decided to separate from the Christmas competition, opting to come out two weeks after “Dracula.” Aussie wickets garnered a lusty $ 7.6 million, up by 10%.

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